Once a New York drag queen with a popular happy hour show, M’Lady Uppercrust left it all behind to pursue other dreams and opportunities–in a swirl of Drag Race rumors, of course! Now she’s back in town for a few gigs, and with a very coveted role in this week’s Pride parade. Sweetie darlings, come sip the royal T with M’Lady!
Thotyssey: Hi M’Lady, welcome back to New York!
M’Lady Uppercrust: Thanks, pumpkin!
What’s the first New Yorkish thing you did upon your return?
I met up with my drag gal pal Misty Meaner, and we shared tons of big “I missed you!” hugs. We went out for cocktails, where I just enjoyed reconnecting with the scene, and we chatted and caught up until 530am. I am a night owl, and miss that in NYC there is always something to do until the sun comes up!
What’s last call in Florida, usually?
I am not sure, but it is a landline rotary phone [laughs]. Last call is like 130am.
So how long are you back in town for?
Right now, two weeks with an option to extend longer [laughs].
I guess it was just about a year ago when you left NYC for Florida to pursue a role in a production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. How did that run go?
It went really well. It was fun and challenging being cast as the leading man. My skin appreciated not having to shave, and I didn’t have two hours of makeup before every performance.
Were you doing other acting work down there after it was done? And did M’Lady make a lot of Florida appearances at that time?
I was offered a role in La Cage Aux Folles. However, I had to turn it down. I was offered a temp three month job in my other profession (CT Tech in radiology). So M’Lady was on an extended vacation during that time.
It’s a crazy see-saw when you have two completely opposite careers that you care about, isn’t it?
It certainly can be, especially when pursuing the arts. Performing is way more rewarding to the soul, and not nearly as impactful to the bank account.
I do see that M’Lady did a foam party in Sarasota last week.
Yes, she did!
Those are kinda messy/naughty, aren’t they?
It was my first time ever to a foam party, so that was interesting. I was like, “Girl, just don’t slip on the foam and fall off the bar.” Also, the foam short-circuited my music mid-number. So I just looked down at the sudsy crowd and said, “just tip me.“
By the way, you look great! Are you a gym rat now?
Aw, thanks! I guess you could call me a gym rat. I train on average five days a week.
What’s you’re story, by the way? Where are you from?
I was a navy brat. So, I was born in Buffalo NY, but moved around between Virginia and Upstate NY in my younger years. I lived in Naples, Italy during middle school, and went to High School/College in a small town about an hour outside of Rochester NY.
Were you always a performer?
I wanted to mimic and pretend I was in in my favorite shows and movies as long as I can remember. As a kid, I would dress up like all my favorite super heroes, especially Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. I guess most kids eventually grow out of playing make-believe, I just never grew out of it. And as an adult, I still like playing make-believe.
I think Lynda Carter might’ve invented an entire generation of drag queens!
I got to meet her in person, actually! It was heavenly! She was very sweet. I met her when she was doing a cabaret show in NYC. One of my friends, Jason, works for Out Magazine and was interviewing her after the show, and he brought me backstage with him. iPhones had just come out, and she was still learning how to use hers.
So, when did you create M’Lady Uppercrust?
I had dabbled in drag over the years with different names. I created M’Lady Uppercrust in 2009.
By the way, you’re a musical theatre actor… how come you never sang as M’Lady?
I did…once [laughs]! I actually would love to do a cabaret show or put together an album/EP. I just don’t like to sing along with karaoke tracks. I prefer to sing with live instruments.
Yazzz Cabaret Queen! I feel that a lot of drag queens set out to create characters with their drag, but in the end almost always just become a heightened version of themselves. Do you think this happened to you?
Yeah, I don’t think of M’Lady as a character, really. I think she is a different side of me.
You had a successful happy hour show at the original Boots & Saddle for a little over a year. How was that experience for you, and what did you learn from it as a performer?
It was one of favorite life experiences. I loved my show and my audiences. I learned and grew so much as a performer. I learned how to listen, and feel the energy of a room. I gained a stronger confidence as a performer, and as a person.
You were also incorporating a lot of multimedia into your act. A fan favorite was you as Judy Garland on screen, dueting with you as Liza in real life. Was that really fun to do, and are you still pursuing that part of it in recent M’Lady performances?
That was a blast to do! It is one of my favorite performances as well. I have not done more like that, but I would love to do more theatrical work like that. My AbFab Show had interactive multimedia work like that in it. So Judy and Liza and Eddie and Patsy got my multimedia touch!
You were a cruise ship queen for a season. How did you enjoy that experience?
I left Boots because I was offered a position as wig master on a cruise ship. I really enjoyed it at first, but it was a seven month contract and it very quickly got terribly monotonous.
And then when were you offered the role in Florida?
I was in Florida visiting my family [after I got back from the cruise gig], and auditioned for Chitty, and was offered the role.
And when you finally left for good, you vanished just around the same time as Bob the Drag Queen and Thorgy, so some queens were… suspicious about your timing! Were you aware of, or did you suspect, any of those rumors were going on that your departure was Drag Race-related?
I wondered if anybody would have thought that. I didn’t realize the rumors were happening, though.
Oh, you know queens!
I do know queens!
Obligatory to ask this during this sad time: while in Florida, did you ever get to Pulse in Orlando?
I never went to Pulse, it’s about two hours from where my family is. My sister and her group of friends did lose a friend however.
I’m so sorry to hear that. What an unbelievable tragedy.
Well now, it’s New York’s Pride week. Have you done any NYC gigs these past few days? I thought I saw that you might have performed in Brooklyn a few nights ago.
I had an invite to perform with Misty, but this past week I decided to devote to just catching up with friends and just be in vacation mode.
Got it. So, Edina! One of things that you’ve become really known for was your
impersonation of Edina “Eddie” Monsoon of Absolutely Fabulous. You look exactly like her in drag! When did you realize you could pull off that illusion?
Well, I have always been inspired by female comedians, and I love British accents. AbFab was one of my favorite shows, so I would watch it all the time, and quote it endlessly!
I decided for Halloween one year to dress up as Eddie. My friend Susan was my Patsy, and we won the costume contest that year at XES. So that planted the seed of wanting to put my own show together.
Eddie really gave me the permission to become more fearless as a performer. When you get in front of an audience, you are afraid of messing up, saying the wrong thing, falling, or just generally making an ass of yourself. When you are playing a character that does all those things as part of the character, all those fears get stripped away.
And then you were doing a show as Eddie opposite Misty’s Patsy for a spell, right?
Yep initially I had a show at Suite and Lady Blue was my Patsy. She moved. Then I put together Shmoozin’ and Boozin’. It ran bi-weekly at XES for A few months, and that is when I asked Misty to be my Patsy Then, when I got the Happy Hour show at Boots, I talked them into letting us do a run of Shmoozin’ and Boozin’ there.
Now I understand that you’ve returned to NYC to promote the AbFab movie as the official drag Edina of the New York Pride Parade next Sunday! How did this opportunity come about, and what will you be doing, exactly?
Now, that’s the best email I ever received [laughs]. I was laying in bed watching TV, and I checked my email on my phone. It was from the PR reps for the AbFab Movie. The email said they going to have a float in the pride parade to promote the movie, and they wanted to hire two queens to be Eddie and Patsy. They said they saw a video from a show, and thought I would be the perfect Eddie and would I be interested in the gig? I, of course, was like “ummm YES!!!”
That’s a magical moment!
Yeah it was beyond flattering!
So, do you know how Eddie would wave to the crowd? I’m guessing it would be a Queenly wrist-twist, but maybe with a little boozy lilt to it.
Def with some “Cheers, sweeties!” to the gays and a couple air kisses!
I have to say that I originally had low expectations for the AbFab movie, especially since the last few short seasons they did weren’t very good. But I think the trailer looks funny. They kill Kate Moss! Are you excited?
I had concerns too, because I feel often times TV shows don’t always translate well to the big screen. However, I am super excited for it!
Will you go to the premiere as Edina?
I would live to do that!
So also, the Monday before Pride (June 20), you’re performing at Rockbar with most of their house queens: Misty, Mocha Lite, Petra Fried, Lady Jasmin, Princess Bitch, Lilith LeFae, Viva Vidalia, Florence D’Lee, Shirley U. Jest & Precious Envy. Did you ever perform there before?
What numbers do you think you’re gonna do?
I have not decided yet. I usually bring everything with me on my iPad, and decide based on how the crowd is feeling to me.
Cool, and the following evening (Tuesday), you’ll be Florence D’Lee’s guest for her own Rockbar show. Did you know Flo before this week?
I have never met her before.
Do you have any fears about being in the Pride parade next week, given the shadow of violence that’s still hanging in the air?
My first thought after I heard about the shootings was to be afraid. I come from a family of worry warts. However, right now I am not really afraid. I am gonna have fun, and enjoy stepping into the shoes of one of my favorite characters. Showing support and pride!
Yes, gurl! So, what’s next?
Right now, I am just trying to set up what’s next for me and M’Lady. I might be checking out California and LA in the near future. That was not a Rupaul hint [laughs]! Although, I would love if that would finally put me in that damn show.
All-Stars Season 3! Okay, last question: Dream job, dream situation, dream city… go!
Dream job…I would love to have a sitcom! I would love to be in a sitcom that follows the life of a drag queen. I don’t know why there is not a drag queen sitcom out there!
Dream situation: I would love be able to have a few different homes in different cities to switch things up from time to time. I don’t know where I want to plant my roots just yet, so for now I am enjoying having the ability to travel around. I would love to do drag in London!
May you have it all M’Lady! Enjoy your stay in NYC!
M’Lady Uppercrust will perform at The Big Gay Pride Drag Show at Rockbar on Monday, June 20th (7pm), and will be a guest performer at The Heavy Flo Show on Tuesday, June 21st (6pm). She will ride the Absolutely Fabulous float for the NYC Pride Parade on Sunday, June 26th. M’Lady can be followed on Facebook.